Damming drought in Northern Kenyans is forcing mass immigrating to Ethiopia, Schools are being closed for good

More than 1,000 pupils in Marsabit North district might not report to school for the first term since their parents have migrated to Ethiopia in search of pasture for livestock. The drought is caoused by the diminishing Omo river used in Ethiopia for three Mega dams. Regional annual rain has fallen dramatically as a direct consequence of Ethiopian dams.

In Marsabit North, more than 1,000 pupils may not report to school for first term as their parents have migrated to Ethiopia in search of pasture for livestock.

Among the affected schools are Balesa and Turbi, which might lose 380 and 290 children if the situation does not change, said district education officer Simon Kimani.

Others affected by the ravaging drought are El Adi, Gawole and Forole primary schools. They have pupil population of 170, 136 and 140 respectively.

File | NATION Flood victims at Elelea in Lokori, Turkana East District, wait for their relief rations distributed by the Kenya Red Cross Society early last year. Thousands face starvation in parts of the country due to prolonged drought.

Kenyan drought victims Omo river damming in Ethiopia

In the semi-arid Mwea division, more than 60,000 people face starvation due to crop failure due to diminishing seasonal floods.

Maize and beans, which constitute the area’s staple food, have dried up due to the failure of the short rains.

Most affected areas are South-Ngariama, Murinduko, Kanjinji, Kiumbu, Marurumo, Ndindiruku and Rukanga.

In Baringo, Mr Kamama said that the hot weather had already wiped out pasture and the villagers could lose their livestock, which is their main source of livelihood.

Speaking in Nakuru, he said almost all water sources had dried up in the affected areas and that the situation could get worse in the coming months.

Last week the grave situation in Marsabit where two people died because of hunger. Hundreds of animals have reportedly died.

Pastoralists in the area have shifted to Merti district while others have crossed into southern Ethiopia with their livestock as drought ravages the region.

As schools open for initial term this year across the country, 1, 016 pupils in five primary schools in the vast desert Marsabit North district will miss classes due to a devastating drought

The worst hit schools include Balesa with 380 pupils who might not return to school this year while Turbi primary school has 290 children staying away from school if intervention measures are not put in place, according to area District Education Officer Mr Simon Kimani.

Other centres affected by the ravaging drought are El Adi, Gawole and Forole primary schools with a pupil population of 170, 136 and 140 respectively.

Balesa and El Adi primary schools have boarding facilities where children from pastoralist parents can get a reprieve but acute water shortage in the region will prevent normal school opening from taking place.

The boarding facilities at the two schools are paid for by church organisations but they could not sponsor the fuelling of water tankers because of the distance involved.

Sponsoring organisations of Balesa and El-Adi boarding facilities could not incur watering expense since the nearest water point is 98 kilometres away across the desert in Horr town. Parents have shifted together with their children in search of water for livestock during the December holidays and they might not return quickly for opening of schools, if at all they return.

Pastoralization in the area have shifted to Merti district while others have crossed into southern Ethiopia with their livestock as drought ravages the region. Many animals have died from lack of water and pasture in the area.

As drought continues, an upsurge of pupils flocking to stable schools such as Maikona and Horr primary schools which have boarding facilities fully sponsored by the Catholic Church are anticipated but Education officials fear such eventuality might affect provision of quality education due to high number of pupils in classrooms.

Pupils from other schools which could not open due to water shortage will enrol for first term this year at either Maikona or Horr Primary but that will strain the school resources and quality of education will drop, since they are turning to nomadic lives .

A local leader Mr Barile Abduba said some parents withdrew their children from school on suspicion that school feeding programme was not in place but the area DEO assured them that food rations have been dispatched to all schools in the district, though schools could not prepare meals for children due acute water shortage.

The  Government did not intervene by supplying water to schools to enable smooth operation of education institutions.  This raised doubts over the success of free primary education in far flung areas if supporting facilities are not provided by the Government. Since the Kenyan government is working with the Ethiopian regime for this Death Dam projects by stopping the annual flooding in the Turkana area which brings humidity and rain in the region.

The only solution will be to stop damming in Ethiopia to assure the annual rain and precipitation  and humidity level in the whole region of the rift valley.

© 2011, Prof. Muse Tegegne. All rights reserved.

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